Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Review: Thor: Season One

Thor: Season One Thor: Season One by Matthew Sturges
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Way back in days of yore when I still rode a dinosaur to school I got into superheroes mainly due to these three-packs of Marvel comic books they sold at our local grocery store. (Three comics for ninety-nine cents!) Since I could only get one of these packs per trip I had to choose carefully, but the catch was that you could only see the two comics facing out on either side of the package with one sandwiched in between that you couldn’t see. It was always a supreme disappointment to me when I’d open a pack and find an issue of The Mighty Thor in the middle.

So obviously I’ve never been the biggest Thor fan which is why I’m kind of surprised that I liked this the most out of the Season One comics so far. (Granted, this is only the fourth one I’ve read.) It does a nice job of blending some of the classic Thor origins with some of the stuff from the movies. I’d forgotten the whole thing about Thor once having a secret identity/dual personality as Dr. Donald Blake back in the day so that was kind of interesting to see again as was the modernized version of his relationship with Jane Foster.

It’s a little light on the Asgard part of things although it still has Loki being a sneaky jerk-face as usual, but overall it was fun and gave Thor a facelift without dumping the elements that would appeal to old school fans. One of my favorite parts was after Thor has become a known superhero on Earth there’s a series of panels that satirize that the kind of click-bait headlines and ads you’d see on the interwebs if there really was a god of thunder among us.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Review: The Dark Room

The Dark Room The Dark Room by Jonathan Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy for review from the publisher.

Inspector Gavin Cain is in the middle of having a body exhumed when he is pulled off that case and rushed to meet the mayor of San Francisco who has received some photos which apparently show a woman being raped along with a threat to release more pictures if he doesn’t kill himself. The mayor denies knowing the woman in between gulps of bourbon, but Cain is less than convinced. As Cain investigates he quickly becomes convinced that there’s a link between the blackmail and the shocking discovery they find in the coffin he was having dug up. Coincidence? I think not!

This is the second book in what author Jonathan Moore is describing as a neo-noir trilogy that started with his excellent The Poison Artist and will conclude next year with The Night Market. However, this is a stand-alone story that just hints at a few events of the previous book so it can be read on its own.

Overall this has a couple of very compelling mystery components with some horrifying elements to them, and the way the plot unfolds make the revelations and ultimate resolution very satisfying. At that surface level it’s a well done whodunit story, but it’s a deeper and more interesting book than just a simple detective novel. While The Poison Artist was a psychological suspense thriller that had a brooding and dreamy atmosphere The Dark Room is more of a straight-up police procedural. Both books make excellent use of their San Francisco location with Moore describing rainy streets filled with fog that make you think that Sam Spade might be walking just around the corner.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about these books is that they are incredibly tight with both of them coming in at less than 300 pages, and yet they feel like full and rich stories. Moore does his business with an admirable economy that doesn’t skimp on the character details. Cain takes shape over the course of the book as a competent and moral detective who is neither an action hero nor Sherlock Holmes. He’s also got a sub-plot about his relationship with his agoraphobic girlfriend, and that’s where we see a whole other side to him that adds more layers.

I’ll definitely be checking out the third and final book of this trilogy when it releases, and I’m so impressed with Moore at this point that I’ll be checking out some of his earlier work, too.

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy: New Guard, Volume 1: Emperor Quill

Guardians of the Galaxy: New Guard, Volume 1: Emperor Quill Guardians of the Galaxy: New Guard, Volume 1: Emperor Quill by Brian Michael Bendis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

”The entire galaxy is a mess. Warring empires and cosmic terrorists plague every corner. Someone has to rise above it all and fight for those who have no one to fight for them. Against their natures, a group of misanthropes and misfits came together to serve a higher cause. DRAX the DESTROYER, GAMORA, the most dangerous woman in the universe, ROCKET RACCOON, GROOT, and FLASH THOMPSON a/k/a VENOM all joined together under the leadership of PETER QUILL, STAR-LORD, to be the saviors of the spaceways, the conservators of the cosmos, the….GUARDIANS of the GALAXY!

But things have changed."

I still haven’t managed to read Secret Wars and the five million reboot books that Marvel launched in the aftermath, but seeing the excellent second GotG movie gave me the itch to check this out. I was a little lost on a few points. What happened ot the Kree homeworld? Why has Peter ditched the Guardians to become king of Spartax after replacing his dirtbag dad. (Who is not Kurt Russell in the comics.) When and why did Ben Grimm and Kitty Pryde leave Earth and join the Guardians?

As with most things things comic booky it’s best not to worry too much about the history and just diving in didn’t keep me from enjoying the story. It’s fairly easy to pick up the flavor of what’s going on, and Bendis’ style of dialogue is suited for infodumps among the banter and fights.

Overall, I liked this line up. Having Rocket lead the Guardians while Quill is struggling to learn how to lead a planet was a nice change of pace. Kitty Pryde taking over the Star-Lord persona gives her a cool new look while still remaining the same great character, and I really liked Ben Grimm joining the team. It’s a good start to a book I can see myself reading a lot more of if they just let them have fun adventures rather than trying to shoehorn them into crossovers.

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Friday, May 5, 2017

Review: Ant-Man: Season One

Ant-Man: Season One Ant-Man: Season One by Tom DeFalco
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My reaction was seeing that Marvel did one of these Season One stories for Ant-Man was pretty much the same reaction I had when I heard they were doing an Ant-Man movie. Really?

But on reflection it does make a certain amount of sense. Hank Pym goes back to the early days of the Marvel comic universe, and he was a founding member of the Avengers so giving him a reboot with the rest of the gang helps create consistency. However, his history of wife slapping and mental health issues also make him problematic.

This does a fairly good job of laying groundwork for some of the problems he’d have later with a young Hank grieving over his murdered first wife and struggling with his paranoid tendencies as well as his overbearing father. This creates a sympathetic guy you can see destined for trouble down the road. The origin stuff is OK with a plot that gives somewhat plausible reasons why a guy would shrink himself down and talk to ants.

It’s not great, but it was a decent reboot.

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